Saturday, 29 January 2011

TRU Textures Ltd - Witchford Medieval Texture Collection

Licenses Available for Second Life Only and Professional Use

27 seamless damp stone Medieval textures.
1024 x 1024 Pixels.
Seamless on both axis.

Available from TRU Textures in secondlife.com here:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Textures%20R%20Us/230/133/31

The Second Life Marketplace

Also available very soon from TRU Textures website.

 Single Textures From iSourceTextures.com   

Contentparadise.com

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Second Life - SEO and Search

 
Our Position on the old "Places" list. Page One
Ever since Linden Labs introduced "All Search" over 2 years ago we have had problems to the degree that at one point I actually started to wonder if it was a conspiracy against "big stores"
I wondered if Linden Labs were deliberately holding us back on page 25 of All Search to give smaller stores some visibility!

All Search works like Google does, unlike the original "Places" list which goes off traffic I think.

For two years we wrote to Linden Labs, wrote to All search Feedback, had the Lindens come to the sim to see if there was a technical issue, tried various tests as advised by All Search feedback, spent a fortune on classified adverts and none of them moved us up or down.
We even paid for SEO services with SLBiz after seeing a friends texture store using the same service and getting a good response. Again, it had no effect for us at all.

I gave up in the end but I was bitter that I was paying $380 a month for a business platform that was not working and getting no help or attention from those I was paying for the same service.

All I could do was keep making more texture sets and try and improve on the quality, make sure they were seamless before I set them for sale.
For those 2 years we remained hidden on All Search as other tiny rented stalls that didn't even sell textures were pages ahead of us. Thank God for word of mouth, for without that we would have disappeared literally out of SL.

Two weeks ago I happened to be browsing the Second Life forums and saw a chap named Darrius Gothly who had written a post about ANS and the SL Marketplace boxes.

I contacted him with no real expectation or hope of a result.
I asked if he could help me see what we were doing wrong or if indeed he felt there was a technical glitch. He said he wasn’t representing anyone in the texture category in SL so he could and would help me.
(Which was nice to know. I know some of TRUs customer won’t reveal the source of their textures because they don’t want people creating identicle products using the same textures. I understand that but am ever so grateful to those who gladly tell customers where they got their textures!)

Without taking a penny off me upfront,  he pointed out why TRU was not being picked up by Second Lifes search and it had nothing to do with key words or rezzing 100 boxes and naming them "textures"
We changed nothing at all. The product names and descriptions remained the same and we didn't change the land name or description either.

It made total sense when he told me his feelings on why we were buried by non texture related locations and so we followed his advise.
In less than 24 hours we shot up from page 25 to page 1 in one swoop,  under the keyword "textures"

I was ecstatic! At last,  we were able to at least play the game of SEO and marketing in Second Life, we were on equal grounds with other stores in the texture industry were as before, our hands were tied.

I am now tweaking different things to try and get our store further up on page one. It's trial and error but its also very interesting to learn a few tricks and see the results either negative or positive.

I "could" purchase some SEO tools but I am not comfortable rezzing prims with key words added to the name and description. Just as I am not comfortable in gaming traffic either by leaving my own avatar in busy mode on my sim or creating alts to do the same (Which is actually against Second Lifes TOS) and I have noticed some texture stores with 10k traffic and I know for a fact that is not true customer built traffic. If I can't do it, why should they?

I am a firm believer that traffic should reflect your products reputation and anyway, we all know traffic does not equal sales. Some of our best days have been with low traffic and worst days with high traffic.

Whilst I am relieved we are at least now visible on All search, I can't help but feel miffed that we were a non entity for 2 years in the new search system and through no fault of our own.

How much damage two years of being unseen in All search has done is anyone's guess and I am not even sure many people use All search anyway.

I know the majority of new TRU customers come by word of mouth which is good, of course.

The last I heard, new Second Life users are by default using the SL viewer 2 and only have access to All Search unlike people using Viewer 1.7 who still have the options of both All Search and the original Listings.

What amazes me is Linden Labs couldn't have pointed out the obvious technical issue we had.
They just replied with generic auto response letters about how they couldn't reveal SEO tricks on the occasions they responded at all.

I wasn't asking them to slip me a few tips, I just wanted them to look at our store and layout and see if there was a technical issue not associated with keywords or names of products or how we set up the SEO
It took one person a few hours to look over the store and point out what the likely issue was and he was right and I paid him despite the fact at that stage he was not officially working for us. He had just offered us his opinion.

 
Our current position on Page One of All Search


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It’s not even funny, well, actually it’s hilarious!

Really??
Sexy? Hmmmm, nope.
You can add your own story here....

I only have one word, tragic.


I can’t help but think the puppetier in real life probably looks like this:


Sexy Indeed.

















Thursday, 20 January 2011

iPad Game Contest - Beaten by a rats whisker
















Our Entry - Rampage Designs

The Result/Winners

The Contest

I was part of a 3 man team for a contest to create a game for the iPad, the winners would have the game pubished by DR Studios and some of the commercial return would go to charity ( see link )

My team, Rampage Designs came second by HALF A POINT!

In my eyes, we drew equal. Half a point, ppffft, splitting hairs! lol

I’m teasing (a bit) I am still proud.
There were three of us, Aaron the coder, me the artist and we had a tester (to check the game worked OK, report bugs etc)
So, to come that close to the winning team who have experience, are an established studio with a game already published, is damn good considering none of us had ever made a game in our lives.

Aaron, should be very proud.. I know I am.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

I Hate MS Windows & I Lurve Apple Mac














I hate windows. I have used windows since MS Dos, I remember the work based Windows training in 1999 and how it was all complicated but exciting.

And for years, that's all we knew. Unless you were a tech head who liked exploring unusual open source OSs like Linux,  most of us stuck to what we were given, what we knew and what came as default on every Dell or HP PC we bought.

We had no reason to argue with it, there were times when it pissed us off but as the saying goes: "You don't miss what you've never had"

Well, I got a taste of what I was missing when the iPhone came out. The intuitive ease of use was striking, it just "made sense"

Then a year later,  as I was browsing in PC World,  I saw an iMac and played with the keys not really understanding much but at the same time noticing the same intuitiveness I found with the iPhone.

I left the store and went back twice before I gave in and bought it and even then I wasn't converted. We cling to familiarity, well I do anyway.

My partner ended up using it as I was finding the period of adjustment frustrating.

I would pass his PC desk and glance at the beauty of that machine, how tidy everything was both on screen and off it.
No noisy massive tower taking up room on your desk or under it, no annoying wires wrapped around your neck, everything was inside that slim 27" monitor and unlike most wireless mouse and keyboards the iMacs components actually worked.

Another 3 months passed and I bought one and even then I couldn't let go of the safety of my Windows PC.
For 4 months they both sat on my desk and occasionally I would power up the mac and have a play but all of my applications and files stayed on my windows PC.

My only regret now is not taking the plunge sooner.
Now I have adjusted to a mac OS I would not go back to windows for love nor money (Certainly not love! Whats to love?)

Unfortunately the rest of the world isn't ready for mac yet with most software applications still catering for Windows OS which means there are times when I have to resort back using Windows and OMG the agony of it.
I don't know how I managed all those years (You don't miss what you've never had!)

Each time I log into Windows the boot up takes 4 times as long as the iMac, there is usually some Windows update annoying me and threatening to restart the computer in 10 minutes. And that's if I happen to NOT be in a program that restricts me from seeing the tiny but important notice in the bottom right hand corner.

The times I have been in the middle of something in 3DMax and the computer switches off to upgrade for the 10th time that week and I loose everything!

The last straw was Windows failed and had to be reinstalled and I lost all of my study files.

How many times has that happened in your life using Windows?

Its happened to me at least 6 times and yet with my iMac, which I have been using for 18 months now,  I have not noticed any updates, if there are any they are done without disturbing your work, in the background.

I have had at least 20 viruses on different Windows PCs over the years yet not one virus on my iMac and yes I do have a Anti Virus application which again, runs in the background without slowing your machine and workload to a snails pace. To date,  it hasn't found one tiny insignificant blip that shouldn't be there.

Windows is just SLOOOOOWW  compared to a Mac, that little blue circle thing spins around and around for 5 minutes when all you want to do is run the DVD!

Switching from Windows to Mac is like learning to drive a manual car and then getting into an automatic, it seems weird and first but once you adjust things just seem so much more simpler and laid back, its less stressful you can put cruise control on and enjoy the ride.

The fact we have two iMacs, 2 iPhones and an iPad and 2 windows PCs sat in the freezing garage collecting dust (as they should!) should tell you how "converted" we are.

Trust me, I know how the Mac OS may seem alien because MS got us all brainwashed for many many long tedious years but Apple are coming in now, and fast.

They are a serious contender. MicroSoft are now trying to replicate Apples ideas and concepts with OSs, game consoles and even cell phones.

I would imagine Mr Gates is not sleeping as soundly as he has been for the last 10 years.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Second Life Politics - The forbidden Topic

I am going to break my own rule today and write about my feelings on "SL politics" the forbidden topic.

I say forbidden as anyone that touches on the subject SL politics ends up starting an online pubic flaming war were those few people who don't agree that the sky is falling or that Linden Labs are all distant blood relatives of Vlad The Impaler  must either be Linden Lab staff in disguise or brown noses.

Countless forum threads discussing Linden Labs, the Second Life economy, land fees or lets not forget the favourite "How long before Second Life closes?" (groan) have been a firm favourite in even the official Second Life forums which I have a glance at now and again when I need to go and do some admin at the SL Marketplace
Very occasionally I may respond to a thread never to return to see possible replies.

I don't venture to 3rd party forums, I don't have the time or interest in watching people flame, bitch, BS and climb the virtual social ladder of forum leadership to somehow compensate for their lack of real social lives and/or skills.

I said that out aloud didn't I? Well, its more or less true with the odd exception. I am not saying everyone and anyone who partakes in forum debates are losers but there are those who literally live to blog.

The need for life's purpose from some of these forum "die hards" is as obvious as it is tragic with as many as 10,000 posts on one of several different forums they are members of.

I digress, but needless to say, I don't have much time or respect for forums in general they tend to attract people with too much time on their hands, fragile egos and an axe to grind and that's always a dangerous combination.

I am sick to death of seeing people write:

"Second Life is doomed for failure because of how Linden Labs run it"

That may well be true, I don't know and no one does really but what is the point in writing it over and over and over again?

It's almost as if people want SL to fail.
In fact I suspect that is actually the case for many of them.

I wonder if a lot of the people who insist on repeatedly sharing their opinion on how and why they think SL will fail is because their own business (which runs on the SL platform) has perhaps failed and they  fall into the "blame game" and If SL did close this would somehow justify and explain why their own business either never took off or had "failed"too.

Another thing that gripes me is who ever is the CEO someone is not happy.
It doesn't matter who is named CEO, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, who ever was CEO they will pick and poke and find something about their past employment history that signifies failure for SL.

Recently, Linden Labs announced the arrival of a new CEO, Rod Humble who used to be vice president  of EA Games and predictably some people started leaving comments about how "SL is not a game!!" and  "Don't you make SL into another The Sims Online!"

The guy hasn't even warmed the office chair with his ass and people have written him off.

People just HAVE to moan and I am not saying that Linden Labs are akin to God or have made brilliant decisions over the years in fact not only do I have my own major issues with LL but I have made my own monumental errors within my own business.
But I recognise that publishing my venom on the internet does neither me or them any favours and more to the point it won't change anything, it won't "fix" the things I don't like or agree with.

I have to put my faith in them as people who are trying to run a profitable business, if they succeed I have a chance of also succeeding. The end.

It seems it is human nature to moan about the negatives and totally take for granted the positives.

A good example of this behaviour is the value of the Linden Dollar.
Right now the worth of the Second Lifes currency is the highest it's ever been with sellers getting more real dollar for their Linden Dollar than ever before.

I havent seen any posts about how great this is or how this may signify good things for SL, there may well be some, but I haven't seen any.
If we go back 8 months or so when the Linden Dollar dropped in worth to the lowest it had ever been, there were 100s of forum threads and posts about how this alone showed SL was failing.

People were livid screaming about how unfair and difficult LL made business owners (they meant themselves) chances of success a joke.

My own business has felt a sharp decline in sales since 2008 and it's a daily battle to keep our heads above the water but I recognise the real reason for this and it has very little to do with Linden Labs
It is largely down to the global and very well documented fact we're in the middle of an historical economic crisis.

If my own business was to fail I wouldn't blame LL,  I would blame me and the economy.

It's a very vicious time to be in business right now regardless of whether that business is on the internet or on the high street. I doubt many companies have not felt the recession take a bite out of their profits and you find you have to work 4 times as hard just to keep ticking over, that's a given.
It's not because search doesn't work and neither is it because the CEO of SL is crap at his job,  its because consumer confidence is very low and were once spending a dollar was considered a throw away purchase its now seen as a loaf of bread or more fuel in the car.

I am by nature very cynical and certainly more of a realist than I am an idealist so this isn't me in denial
wearing rose coloured glasses,  I just think you have to work with what you are given or give up.

One hour spent complaining in a forum (or even your own blog like I am now) is one hour you could or should be working on your skills, marketing and generally keeping your business running.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Royksopp - Vision One - Good Music Part Two

So, two posts ago I wrote about a track called "Forever" by Royksopp and said I thought it was a version of another song I had heard which had electronic vocals, a kind of resampled mix which I couldn't put a name to.

Still frustrated by this, I decided to do a little research on their website hoping they may mention it somewhere and I found it on their Junior album!

Only, it's not a remix of Forever at all, it's a totally different track called Vision One and it turns out I had bought it 8 months ago anyway.

So, here's the track I really, really, really love, and now when I hear them both I don't know why I thought they were the same song at all, but clearly I recognised they were made by the same group.

It is by far one of the best tracks I have heard in years, Vision One by Royskopp.



Here are the lyrics but to be perfectly honest, it's not the lyrics that draw me.

There was a time when all the shadows of these tall buildings
Would throw their cape around each corner of the grassy field
And one by one, each new shade, would cover the green way back;
Allowing changes that we could not have foreseen

Everybody let us gaze upon the world we created
And let's rest our eyes upon the great machine, as we wave goodbye
Feel the evening breeze caress your smile, the cities are dying
As we watch it fall to a modern state, a modern time


Remember when we'd hear the distant sound of human life?
A zillion noises whip our eyes that travel through the sky
And one by one, each little sound, has faded away with time,
Allowing changes that we could not have foreseen

Everybody let us say goodbye to all our notions.
'Cause there's not enough to say that we're humane, when we're left
behind
It's too late to think that we can worship human emotions
'Cause we've already evolved into machines, in our minds

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Royksopp Forever - Good Music

Absolutely love this track, heard it a year or so ago and have just bought it from iTunes.

(Actually, this isn't the one I love, the one I heard had electronic vocals, I assume some remixed sampled version which I don't know the name or artist, bah!)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Forgotten Cottage Texture Collection 2011 Edition

I made the original Lost Cottage texture set in 2010 and to be honest, didn't think too much about it.

I struggled creatively as I made it and kind of "settled" in the end feeling like I had just created yet another Medieval texture set and priced it lower than average accordingly.

I was wrong.

That set has proved to be highly popular with a sale almost every day from the in world store (in secondlife.com) (It isn't on Contentparadise.com, SL Market Place or isourcetextures.com)

Recently a customer asked me to add wood beams  to the original set.

He had purchased a building from a merchant who had used the original textures but had edited them by adding her own wood beams.
My customer wanted more options and sent me a list of the exact textures he needed beams adding to.

I hate opening Photoshop up just to "edit" existing older collections, preferring to start afresh with new materials and skills developed over the months and that's exactly what I have done with the new collection I am working on now.

So far I have 120 textures offering both exterior and two choices of interior walls all with and without transparent windows.

This time I have tried to add a lot more versatility by creating different degrees and types of cracks, peeled wallpaper and ageing effects which when used together the final build should look interesting and more authentic and less likely to look like the same base texture has been used repeatedly.




I will be uploading them into Second Life, TRU Textures and the SL Market Place as well as contentparadise.com today or tomorrow.